Map of Trip-2006.
Map of Trip-2008.
Map of Trip-2009.
Map of Trip-2010.
Camper Trailer built, van resheeted and our leave
approved. All systems are now go for our 3 year adventure.The final few
months of 2007
did not improve greatly, with what seemed like a million last minute
jobs to be attended to, but we did manage to finally get out of the
house and 'On the Road' at last. Arranging a big trip like ours is a
lot of work and takes a bucket load
of organising. It's a bit like planning for a wedding. After the event
look back and wonder why it all took so long!!
For both Chris and myself our last day at school was mixed emotions of
excitement and sadness. We were both spoilt with gifts and good
wishes and are both very lucky to work with such great people, all of
whom we will miss.
Now this might sound a little odd but we still have the occasional 'Are
we doing the right thing?' thoughts (a bit late now for that I guess).
The fact that I had to give up my position at school was probably the
hardest to swallow but these are the sacrifices you have to make to
fullfill a dream. The boys remain as 'Keen' as mustard and can't wait
for the adventure to begin.Where we are or what we are doing really is
irrelevant, as long as we
are having fun, doing something different, learning something new and
doing it together as a family.
As our house in Buss St. was rented at the beginning
of December, we
shifted back into the Joiners driveway for the last week of school
(which we seem to be making a habit of, thanks again guys!!) before
heading off to the Sunshine Coast for our 3 weeks at Pincushion Caravan
Park. Now let me tell you that Sunshine
Coast it was not. The weather was mega crap, with every day being wet,
windy (in 'fact bloody windy) and wet (did I mention that??). We still
a great time but a summer beach holiday it was not. The usual crew were
there and as per usual we had heaps of laughs. Jim and Jenny and Trevor
and Desley continued to spoil the boys and they really make this
holiday special for us all. Having the Coombes opposite really tops it
off. Kelvin and I have at least daily shopping trips to anywhere and
everywhere and I take great pleasure in helping Kelvin spend his hard
earned cash. To make him feel better I also spend a little as well. It
was good to catch up with Bruce, Michelle and Aaron again and Alex
loved going for a hoot in Aaron's racing rubber boat. The speed of this
thing and it's ability to turn on a dime is amazing. The Nyes were
again behind us, or at least Wendy was, as poor old David spent more
time at work than he did at the van.
As has become the tradition at Pincushion, Christmas
lights became the
centre of attention. It has become a bit of a tongue in cheek
competition between us all, and although everybody swears they will not
buy anymore lights, we all manage to pick up a few "can't pass up
bargains". Our main purchase this year was a big blow- up rotating
carousel. Every night we have literally hundreds walking past and
admiring our street. The boys get dressed up in their Santa suits and
hand out lollies to all the kids. This really is a great atmosphere and
one that you could get at no other place other than a caravan park.
Christmas itself was lovely. After Santa's visit and
excitement upon waking, we spent the morning with my mum and
Stuart, then had Chris's mum and our nephews from the Gold Coast for
lunch (and for a couple of days), as well as all the gang from the
park. We all had a ball!!
After our 3 weeks on the "Rainshine Coast" it was
back to Bundaberg for
a week before setting off to Burrum Heads for a week. For our week back
in Bundy we house sat for the Joiners which was great. Our first few
days back in town were hot and sunny, but alas Joiner's pool was green.
By the time I got the pool clear again it had started raining, and
to rain until we left. I spent most of the week doing jobs at the
Elliott Heads house as we have just had new tenants shift in, so there
was all those between tenant jobs to be done. It all worked out really
well except for the continued rain that somewhat hampered my progress.
Saturday 12th actually had blue skies. How exciting. We quickly did a
few loads of washing at the Joiners, which we actually got to dry
before heading off to Burrum Heads. Now this week has become a very
longstanding tradition. These are people that I worked with back in the
early 80's on the Gold Coast, who we have stayed very good friends with
over all these years. There are four other families and we have now
coming here for this week for over 12 years. It is an amazing situation
because we never see each other during the year and rarely even talk,
but as soon as we all get together it is like we see each other all the
time. The kids all get on beautifully and for a week we only see them
when they are hungry. In fact we have been coming so long that some of
kids that started out in nappies are now finishing grade 12 and
planning to go off to Uni. It's enough to make you feel a little old.
The Council Caravan Park at Burrum is one of the best we have
our whole trip around Oz (Burrum is about 15 minutes north of Hervey
Bay). It is absolutely on the Burrum River, facing north overlooking
the river mouth and moored yachts. There are shops directly opposite
a great butcher and bakery as well as a general store, and a pub around
the corner if needed. Burrum Heads is not very big, although growing
rapidly and has a great walking path that follows the river for a
couple of kms. If you are passing through this way put it on your must
stay list. Unfortunately getting a waterfront site like we have is
getting harder and harder but you can still see the water from many of
the other sites and everbody can use the foreshore area.
So our week seemed to come to an end very rapidly. Except for a couple
of rainy days the weather was fairly kind to us, be it a little
overcast most the time. Unfortunately we will most likely not see these
guys now for a few years as we plan to be in Tassie this time next year
so will miss the traditional get together.
Now we are starting to feel like the trip is about to
begin. It was
back to Bundaberg for what we thought would be a few days that ended up
being 6 nights swapping all the gear over from the caravan to the
camper trailer, as well as finishing off yet more jobs at Elloitt
Heads. It was starting to look likely that some of the extensive floods
could hamper our progress into the NT. Our first obstacle was to get
past Rockhampton before the Fitzroy River burst its banks and had us
stranded before we left. Our first night saw us set up camp at
Benaraby, just near the Gladstone turnoff, on the recommendation of the
Joiners (it doesn't matter what I say about them, they never read the
web page - they don't know what they are missing out on!!) This is a
with first class facilities, with it's major downside being that it is
attatched to a large roadhouse that every truck driver in Australia
must stop at. If you are unaware of exactly how many trucks a night
traverse these roads, well let us tell you. Shit loads and we heard
every one of them. It would be fine in a fully insulated caravan but in
a 'tent on wheels', that's another story.
Next day it was a pleasant drive to Mackay to stay with some great
friends. Many, many years ago, in fact back in 1977 I lived in Mackay
over 3 years. It was then I became mates with Greg and have been the
best of friends since. He has a beautiful family, Mozzie, his long
suffering wife and the 5 kids. We stayed with them for 5 nights and
were made to feel like part of the family. These are special people
that will always have a special place in my heart.
It has been a few years since our last visit to mackay and we were
really surprised by the massive growth of this area. Shopping complex
after shopping complex! The development at the Harbour is unbelievable,
with at least 10 new highrise apartment blocks, coffee shops,
restuarants and magnificently manicured gardens with tables and
barbeques along the foreshore. The trip from town to the beachside
village of Bucasia, which is where I used to live, is no longer a trip
through cane fields, but now a trip through suburbia and endless new
developments. Maybe it is progress, but I liked it more the way it used
Considering we were there for nearly a week, we really
didn't do much.
The highlight of the visit for Harry was when Greg took him for a spin
in one of his semi's. Harry looked so funny perched up there in this
huge cab, with a grin wider than the Bruce Highway. We had a look
around town while I reminisced, did a bit of last minute shopping
(bought a new camping chair) and did a day trip to Finch Hatton Gorge
and Eungulla. We actually went out there because they had
had lots of rain (13 inches in 4 hours) and we wanted to see the Gorge
with plenty of water in it. Well after the 50 km drive we were within 5
kms of the gorge and the "Road Closed" sign loomed in the distance. No
way, so through I drove. The first water crossing was a little deep and
the road was in a very bad state but the Nissan was triumphant. Around
the last corner we go like naughty little school children who are
wagging and who should we run into??!! No, not the Principal, worse,
Park Ranger. Thinking we would be expelled, we gingerly made our way
over to him, and what did he say, bloody nothing except "Enjoy the
falls, you don't see them like this all the time". Phew!!
The road from Finch Hatton to Eungulla is very steep and windy. It was
the middle of the day when we arrived up there and not a good time to
go platypus viewing but being the eternal optimists, off we went. Now
you want to get up close and personal with one of the elusive creatures
you need to be very lucky, very quiet and be there early in the morning
or late in the afternoon. As we arrived midday, and as we are not
quiet the only thing we had going for us was the luck component.
And guess what? As we were standing on the viewing platform out came a
platyapus (be it a little one) that swam around giving us a private
performance for about 10 minutes. This was the first one the boys have
seen well (they did see a ripple in the water caused by one at Canarvon
Gorge years ago) and only about the second time for Chris and myself.
After being natured out, it was a
visit to the pub to enjoy the view of the valley towards the coast. I
would love to be there when those crazy men (surely women would
not be so stupid) and their flying machines run off the launching ramp
and hang glide all the way to the bottom of the valley below. Must put
that on my ever growing list of "Must Do's" (No, view only, NOT
Australia Day was spent at 'Dolphin Heads Resort' at Eimeo with the
Pierpoints and some friends of theirs, lazing
around the pool, having a few beers over lunch and a few laughs. A
great way to
celebrate living in one of the best countries this world has to offer.
For our 5 nights we stayed in the airconditioned office in the house
with ensuite attached. While it was certainly not the camper trailer,
we suffered in silence and made the best of the situation!!!!
Finally they got rid of us and we headed for Townsville to bludge
off more friends.
The 4 hour trip was horrid. The rain (if that is what you call a
million litres of water being dumped on your windscreen) started 5
minutes after we left Mackay and followed us all the way. At least 3
times we had to pull over due to ZERO visibility and sit in a hot
steamy and foggy car (because I was too tight to leave the engine
running) until it eased slightly. No fun, let me tell you.
In Townsville we stayed with Greg and Jos and their 2 big kids.
We first met
Greg and Jos on our honeymoon back many, many moons ago and spent our
10th wedding anniversary with them in Bali. They are heaps of fun and
great hosts. We again had to suffer an airconditioned house (at least
until 2am, when Jos turns it off for some reason) which was good as it
was quite wet while we were there. We had the car serviced and took the
kids to the water park at the Strand, and are not really sure what else
we did, but it took all day.
Well, that is it for January 2008. Our journey has just begun, after
all the planning. All is going very well. The camper tows nicely and
it is is easy to forget it is even there. Our fuel ecomomy is only
marginally better than with the van, which is a little surprising or
should I say disappointing, but then again it is fairly heavy, and we
do have a lot on the roof causing a bit of wind resistance. As we are
hoping to be in Darwin within a week or so, the next leg of the journey
will be mainly driving.
Stay tuned for February 2008
If your not living
life on the edge, you are taking up too much space